In Reply to: Re: Cambodia, Laos posted by Luna on February 08, 2008 at 19:09:00:
I can appreciate your observations about life in Asia and the meeting of cultures.
Laos gripped my heart the most. The people there were bombed to bits by the Americans in a 'secret' war, and unexploded ordninance is still killing and maiming daily, but they are not bitter against the US or American tourists.
There is a saying in Indochina: Three farms decided to grow some rice. The Vietnamese went to work planning how to make the best yield per hectare and began planting immediately. The Cambodians disagreed over how to build the farm, and who should do what. The Laotians planted the fields and sat down to listen to the music of the wind rustling through the fields of crops.
I've seen the same thing regarding old farts and young Thai girls, young Thai boys, and even the other way with old hags and young beach boys. Aside from the ugliness of prostitution, it's unpleasant when the probability is that these relationships are borne of unequal economic advantage. I try not to judge too much, reminding myself that what they do is between them and God. The rich westerners might be losers who would never be able to get a partner in their own country, but it is their right to find love and happiness and be with someone who won't judge them the same way. It's only great that many Asians don't mind the age difference. What bothers me if anything, would bother me even if it were not a cross-cultural, cross-economic relationship, like if the guy is rude and obnoxious and acts like he has bought her, if he is violent, or acts like a sex tourist who could dump her and so on. It's not always clear who is using whom. Sometimes guys import girls who want a ticket to a better life in the West, then use them and dump them before they get their residency. But it works the other way around too, when girls use the guy and tell them how much they love them, until they get their residence permit and then it's so long goodbye. What I do find ugly, is that many westerners with Asian partners are some of the most ignorant and racist people, but they would never know it just because they have an Asian partner. It's like they bought a license to be patronizing.
I saw a lot of misery in Cambodia too, but alongside is the new hope of life, the celebration of the family unit which was broken down by Pol Pot. What saddened me was the corruption that allowed the killing fields to be sold off to a Japanese company which was going to cash in on it like a theme park.
In Asia, there is the ugly, bare, undisguised face of power, as Barak Obama wrote.
Malaysia and Singapore are countries with severe supression of freedoms, but in Singapore, it's not so obvious because it's so wealthy and English speaking that visitors think it's a westernized democracy.
When I was in Vietnam, I discovered a secret firewall and that EVERYTHING on the interet is channeled to a secret proxy which filters out all your information. The government still spies on its people.